Statement on the Release of the Ocean Justice Strategy

December 8, 2023

As a member of the Ocean Justice Forum Steering Committee, Urban Ocean Lab welcomes the Biden Administration’s release of the Ocean Justice Strategy to advance economic, racial, climate, and environmental justice in ocean policy.

In the United States, 65 million people—20% of the population—live in coastal cities and are exposed to worsening coastal hazards like rising seas, flooding, and erosion. This is also a matter of justice: Nearly 60% of coastal city residents are people of color, 50% are renters, 16% are living in poverty, and 13% are non-citizens (all respectively higher than the national average), and climate impacts are disproportionately borne by historically-disadvantaged communities. The Ocean Justice Strategy will provide critical guidance to help safeguard the futures of all urban residents living near the ocean or Great Lakes.

In September 2022, the Ocean Justice Forum released a consensus based federal policy platform that shared a collective vision for achieving just and equitable ocean policy. Earlier this year, many organizations—including environmental justice, community, Indigenous, and national groups—along with hundreds of concerned community members, wrote letters in support of a federal ocean justice strategy. We were heartened to see that, of the 16,000+ comments submitted, nearly 95% referenced the Ocean Justice Platform . It is time to confront deep-rooted inequity with meaningful and just policy action informed by the very communities who have the most at stake.

“The ocean justice strategy makes clear the need for ALL federal agencies to take an equitable and just approach to ocean policy in their decision-making to ensure they are protecting the ocean and the benefits it provides for all while also alleviating the disproportionate burdens placed on ocean justice communities by past decisions. It is incumbent on those agencies to make these policies a reality.”

-Jean Flemma and Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, co-founders of Urban Ocean Lab

Urban Ocean Lab looks forward to continuing our collaborative work at the intersection of social inclusion, ocean stewardship, and justice with coastal communities, our fellow Ocean Justice Forum members, and the Biden Administration.

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Urban Ocean Lab is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that cultivates rigorous, creative, equitable, and practical climate and ocean policy for the future of coastal cities.

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